The second quarter saw a continued expansion of capabilities. As EEE procedures include virtual operations, COVID-19 best practices have not been a significant obstacle to progress.
EEE continues to acquire needed equipment to augment cellular communications in the field. The goal is to have at least two means of communications between operational units and Staging Area/Management resources at all times.
The donated radios have been reprogrammed and are now available for field operations.
The procedures for the WhatsApp internal alert system have undergone further simplification and enhancement. In addition to the general “Availability” alert and the “Deployment” alert, an optional “Readiness” alert has been added and each operational group has it own WhatApp call process.
EEE has transferred its online meeting activities to Zoom at the conclusion of the 90 day trial period with Go To Meeting.
Staffing and Training:
In preparation for the onset of the wildfire season, two general Orientations for new volunteers were conducted and group trainings for Dispatch, Evacuation and Communications were conducted. Training continues to be on a virtual basis.
After thorough analysis, the EEE Board decided to create a new senior position titled “Horse Manager”. This position will be located at the designated staging area for an incident and will be responsible for the care and safekeeping of animals that need to be held pending an ultimate evacuation destination. The Lead position and the group, including a veterinarian,
have been staffed.
The Evacuation Group sponsored a free trailer inspection conducted by volunteer Bob Skinner. Each trailer was individually inspected. It was well received, and trailer owners were very pleased with Bob’s knowledge and professionalism. The session was in keeping with the EEE intent to provide training and value to volunteers that is not limited to EEE operations but also to their needs as horse owners.
In June, it was decided to cease recruiting of general volunteers for this wildfire season with the exception of specialized skills such as Communications. The Volunteer Coordinator has created a call list for “Day” volunteers who are people interested in helping out during major incidents but who may not have the time of inclination to participate in the training required to be registered volunteers.
During the quarter, rack cards and informational emails were sent to the larger fire districts in the County. In June, EEE was the subject of a front page article with full color photos published by the Daily Courier, the County’s premier newspaper.
The article has resulted in donations and a substantial increase in hits and times spent on the site. Our web analytics indicated a decisive increase in page views. Before the Courier article, there were typically 3 page views per day. On the 23rd of June, there were 54 views. Also, the amount of time spent per viewing session increased 634% .
We also entered in a handshake agreement with Olsen’s to provide (as needed), hay for animals held at the Staging Area. The goal is for owners to send an animal’s usual hay along with them during an evacuation, but this does not always occur.
There were also feature articles in the Equine section of Prescott and Sedona Dog magazines and a public service announcement created by them regarding EEE.
Fundraising and Donations:
The Courier article resulted in several cash donations. During the quarter, Home Depot donated 20 water buckets. In-kind donations of 31 hay nets and 6 safety vests were also received. We also received a supply of face masks and a gallon of hand sanitizer from Phoenix Toolbank.
We encourage EEE volunteers to solicit donations. For information regarding our needs, please contact John Hughes for information and guidance.
As anticipated, EEE did not obtain a grant from the Arizona Community Foundation during this cycle. We also learned that EEE does not meet the specific criteria for a PETCO foundation grant or an APS grant. We will continue to pursue grant opportunities as the grant cycles are opened.
At the end of June, the County experienced three small wildfires that were rapidly contained and did not result in EEE callouts. However, the EEE Activation Team responded very promptly in each instance and was prepared to activate volunteers as needed. Four Evac Teams were placed on standby for the Coyote Springs Fire and two teams were place on standby for the Cordes Fire and the Windmill Fire near Wilhoit.
Our Staging Area owners/managers continue to provide valuable, real time information on wildfires in their areas. We are learning how important this is for the Activation Team to assess situations quickly and accurately.